Monday, March 12, 2018

Beachwear and Books

Hello from warm, sunny southwest Florida where I am sitting in a library courtyard with flowering trees, a splashing fountain and fluffy white clouds drifting across the blue skies.  We left Baltimore more than a month ago and are enjoying all the pleasures of a winter vacation in a tropical environment.  So I thought I should share some tropical clothing that I've sewn for this trip.   
Mr. Lucky and I are in two rentals this season (too long a story but it all worked out in the end) and our February rental was a fantastic surprise.  The VRBO house was available last minute and was just magnificent with a heated pool and spa in the back courtyard.  It also included access to the resort pool and spa and all the amenities...tiki bar with music three nights, outdoor dining, gym, multiple pools, waterfalls, just glorious.  So to finally make this about some sewing, here's a purse I customized with leftover fabric from the guest room curtains and pillows I sewed many years ago 
  and here I am wearing my most pinned sewing project, a pullover poncho that seems timeless since it continues to get plenty of hits from searches.

I have sewn versions in silk, rayon and this very "hole-y" open weave knit which I made longer as a swimwear coverup which might be my current favorite.  I think even Peggy Sagers of Silhouette Patterns just did a youtube video on something very similar that she saw while doing her upscale snoop shopping.   
I wrote that original post almost eight (eight?!) years ago when we owned a condo here in Naples.  Turns out I am much better at renting someone's great place than owning a second property.  Now we get to enjoy time with northern friends who come visit while also catching up with FL friends who are happy to see us again each season but I don't have the worry when I leave (nor the nasty mean-spirited emails from absentee owners when I was on our little eight unit condo board.)

Cheers to friendships near and far.
This tunic is another tried and true pattern, New Look 6110, one of my very favorite done in a lightweight silk tissue crepe.  I am happy there's a print (of NYC and its landmarks) because my placket looks terrible on this version.  Must refine that process since I love the pattern and have lots of other plans for it this year.
Jalie Elenore jeans #3461
It's Florida so there must be flowers....even on my pants.  These are the ever popular Jalie 3461 Elenore in a Fabric Mart stretch woven.  All of these summery garments were done at this year's winter Northern Virginia ASG Winchester retreat, our 8th year at the lovely George Washington Wyndham hotel.  And this year the cocktail of the night, specially designed for our group, was the "Berry Bobbin."  Cheers again!

Let's move on to the other sub-head for this blog, my reading selections.  One of the friends who I am looking forward to seeing in person in a few days always asks me what I have been reading.  Hmmm, I have been reading at a greater pace than usual this past year but I still had to go back to my library reading history to recall titles and my opinions about them.  My blogging has slowed down so much that my book reviews dropped off the to-do list.  However, just like in sewing, it's fun to read over these pages and recall the books I have been enjoying.  
First up is a series that will be largely unknown to an American audience.  In June of 2016 when we were on our Wales walking trip (look here if you want to see those sewing projects and my bragging about my mountain hikes Wales sewing and hiking) I spent a lot of time talking with a particular couple at several meals.  He was an avid reader and we discussed  so many books, mostly by American authors.  His partner, however, was only focusing on one author, Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, and her Morland Dynasty series.  Several months after the trip I read the first one and now I am totally addicted.  Morland Dynasty series  
I was an English major for my undergraduate degree so of course had English history in my studies.  But these novels have me understanding that history in new and interesting ways. I am on book 19 (and these are long books, 500-600 pages at least) and have to pace myself because there are only 35 in the series.  One of the libraries in Maryland carries her books so I inter-library request them and savor each one.  Bravo to her for being so prolific and so consistently enjoyable with characters that are unique and compelling. 

I am a member of two book groups, one at my church and one up in PA where a long time friend lives.  That book group has adopted me over the years and I am fortunate to be included in their homes and their group.  This year Mr. Lucky and I were able to attend the holiday party and gift exchange.  One the delights (after the yummy food and funny re-gifting) was a special book group tree that our hostess had decorated with min-frames holding pictures of the covers of books we had read.  I thought I had a picture of the ornament but seems to be just us women celebrating good times and good friends.  (I think I will steal her idea in the future and put an ornament on my tree for my favorite book of the year.)

We did vote on our favorite book from the past year and the top two were my top two as well:

Since we are talking about rating books, here are my five and four star selections from the last year or so of reading.  Most of these are novels and many of them are books that I read, and  so enjoyed, only because someone in my book group selected it that month.  I love my book groups just as much as I do my sewing girlfriends and groups and for the same reasons.  They introduce me to new things, inspire me with their breadth of experience and keep me laughing and sometimes crying together.  Here's hoping you have good books and good friends to do the same.
My five star, don't miss if you love books selections:

My four star selections....books I recommend but maybe with some minor reservations but I thoroughly enjoyed.

Three stars....I wanted to really enjoy these but ultimately found them readable but disappointing.

Right now I am awaiting book 19 in the Morland Dynasty to arrive and have two books "in process."  Sunny afternoons and beach sunsets are perfect for escaping into other worlds and other minds.  I will let you know what I think of them and hope you share some of your favorite reads, too.  Sew grateful to have the time for such pleasures.

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